Normandy, in the lower or southern end of the region, is called ‘Basse’ — or lower — Normandie, while the north end is ‘Haute’– or high — Normandie. You might think they don’t differentiate between the two — but they do:)
After all these years of having our noses to the grindstone, we decided this summer to get to know our area.
It is truly spectacular.
The terrain is rolling hills that broaden and deepen the farther north you go… we ARE, after all, the dairy/fromage region of France…happy cows…pastoral…greens and browns, with evidence of hard work to keep it so. The age-old bocage dividing properties is everywhere…that word now infamous for the debilitating function it had in slowing down the advancing forces landing here.
We drove straight to Port en Bessin — a small fishing village north of Bayeux and smack in the middle of the land that took on the Normandy Invasion.
We camped for five days in the scorching sun — and visited the Normandy Beaches to witness and honor and give thanks — how trite that sounds — how important it is — because without the turning of the tides that day and the months that followed, you would not be reading this page nor I writing it.
Port en Bessin was a big surprise and well worth a visit — there are several small tuckaways perched facing the sea of the English Channel that one can rent for a holiday. The sunlight playing off that limestone rock and mortar is pure delight.
Another HUGE surprise was the beaches themselves. Omaha Beach, as it’s known from the War — it is the beach of Vierville sur Mer. We we will go for a long weekend some sunny spontaneous moment next summer to just sit in the sand. Clean, broad — and actually quite empty of people, it is a far cry from Daytona. Bring a picnic basket because you will want to linger.
We spent one of our days walking the streets of Bayeux — a beautiful city with the Bayeux Tapestry we’ve heard about from friends and family since we arrived but never got to — it is extraordinary to *read* a 1,000 year old pictoral story on fabric of the land in which we live. How they have created the museum space to accommodate all the people who come, serves the tapestry — and can only keep the tourists happy. It’s very civilized.
On night five, it started to rain:) So we headed back in a southerly direction and holed up in a little two star hotel right on the platz in Coutances — directly across from the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
I didn’t know there WAS a cathedral there — so it was another* stumble into* moment. It holds the depths of the energy so akin to Chartres I nearly fell over. Loved it.
We came away from our week full of so much. And that’s what Normandy’s all about. It just keeps on giving.